If you are a parent or grandparent and you’re struggling to get your kids to eat their fruits, veggies, and whole grains, I’m here to the rescue with three snack ideas that score top grades with kids. Read on for summer veggies and hummus, my Garden Green Smoothie, and this crunchy, gluten-free, Make-Your-Own Snack Mix.
Benefits of snacking for kids
Snacks can be the secret sauce to better nutrition for kids and can help to fill in the nutrient gaps in a child’s day. Snacks provide an opportunity for kids to explore new foods, flavors, and textures.
There are certain nutrients kids struggle to get enough of — so-called “nutrients of concern,” but choosing the right mix of snacks can help kids achieve their daily nutrient needs in a fun and tasty way.
Nutrients of Concern:
– Vitamin D
Think of snacks as nutrient-rich mini meals that hold kids over until lunch or dinner.
What is an ideal snack
There is no such thing as perfect, but ideal is doable. When choosing snacks for kids aim for snacks that are portable (if parents and kids are on the go), delicious, appealing to the individual child, affordable, in sync with the family’s culture and food traditions, and nourishing to body and soul. Nutrition is just one of several important components to an “ideal” snack.
Snacks that fill in nutrient gaps
Crunchy Summer Veggies with Hummus: Veggies in season can be purchased at the farmers’ market, local supermarket, or grown at home. Veggies provide fiber and potassium, and the hummus is made from chickpeas, which provides fiber, potassium, and iron. Kids love to dip, so this is the perfect choice for everyone at your table.
Garden Green Smoothie: This is the ultimate green smoothie made with 100% orange juice, plain Greek yogurt, frozen or fresh mango, banana, cucumber, mint, and baby kale or spinach. Packed with fiber, calcium, and potassium, this is a great summer thirst quencher for kids. Let your kids help you blend it, and have some fun!
Make-Your-Own Snack Mix: This homemade Chex mix is made with three kid-favorite fortified breakfast cereals (Corn Chex, Rice Chex, Cheerios) plus mixed nuts, bite-size pretzel, golden raisins, and seasonings. Fortified breakfast cereals can be enjoyed all day long, especially at snack time, and this homemade snack is the perfect example.
When compared to children who don’t eat cereal, cereal eaters have higher intakes of key nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D, fiber, and iron, have higher whole grain intake, and get more than 30% of their daily intake for vitamin A, iron, and B vitamins. So enjoy cereal at snack time!
Here’s an interesting article you may want to read on the benefits of breakfast cereal: Ready-to-eat cereal is an affordable breakfast option associated with better nutrient intake and diet quality in the US population
- 2 cups Corn Chex™ cereal
- 2 cups Rice Chex™ cereal
- 2 cups Cheerios™ cereal
- ½ cup lightly salted mixed nuts
- 1 cup bite-size gluten-free mini pretzel (I used Everything Thins)
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ to ½ cup golden raisins
- Heat the oven to 250°F.
- In a large bowl, mix together the three cereals, pretzels, and nuts.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt until well combined. Pour over the cereal mixture and mix well until everything is evenly coated.
- Transfer the cereal mixture to an un-greased rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool, stir in the raisins, and store in an airtight container at room temperature.